Monthly Archives: January 2012

Missed Opportunity

Great video game tie-ins are few and far in between. The last truly great tie-in was…what exactly? What made it such a great game? Did it add to the original property? These are the questions to ask when considering video games based on movies. Read the rest of this entry

Red Tails

Some people get upset when the two stars listed on a poster aren't pictured on the poster.

Before I go into the review, I want to make it a point to urge you to go out and see Red Tails. It’s not often that you get a Lucasfilms property that isn’t Star Wars or Indiana Jones. It also isn’t often that you get an action film consisting of a predominantly African American cast (and the amazing Bryan Cranston as a condescending racist). This is a film that Lucas has been trying to get made for the past 30 years, only to repeatedly get turned down because the studios said that there is no money to be made from such a film. People don’t want to see the black flying aces of World War II. Unfortunately, the opening weekend box office seems to suggest there is some truth in that – as of now it’s made roughly one-third of it’s $58M budget. I don’t want it to be true. The failure of this film vindicates every studio for casting few African Americans in leading roles and not providing much publicity for any film that casts black people as anything more than a joker, thug, magical negro, overweight loudmouth, etc. I have to admit, I already blame 20th Centure Fox for shortcomings in advertising, as I did not see any advertising aside from a stand at the local movie theatre.

I must also state that a tight knot formed in my stomach when the trailer for Tyler Perry’s latest movie played right before Red Tails. No matter the quality of the film, his will be profitable because his audience attends like good little drones. If we were presented with Tyler Perry presents: Red Tails, I wouldn’t have to implore you to see the film (or buy a ticket and not go – just an option). I’d have to worry about your being fed the horrible reinforcement of black stereotypes for the sake of obnoxious humor. But Tyler Perry’s ruination of black people in the media is neither here nor there. It’s just a fact of life. Read the rest of this entry

Commentary Value

Back in the day when most of us were using the very early versions of America Online to access the internet, leaving comments for our favorite websites was virtually impossible. If we didn’t feel like sending an e-mail to the author’s provided address, we sometimes had the option to sign their guestbook. These are unheard of practices these days, as many individuals will not provide e-mail addresses (or none that are direct, anyway) and an online guestbook now would seem laughable. Many pages of many blogs now offer the option to post your comments. This used to excite people who were creating content for the web. There may be a slowly developing backlash, though. Read the rest of this entry

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Adding History

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a story that has been retold more times than it ought to have over the past 30 years. Most versions begin with a premise derivative of the original Eastman and Laird comic, and the few differences have to do with whether or not Splinter was a originally a rat and who/what Shredder is. The tales spin out from there, each going in a different, pretty much meaningless, direction once the story reaches beyond the Splinter/Shredder revenge story.

The new comic by IDW alters the premise in such a way that it seems to provide a greater emotional depth to the central conflict between Splinter and Shredder. This one involves the turtles themselves. Read the rest of this entry

SOPA

Today is a blackout day for crowdsourced information site Wikipedia as well as crowdsourced time wasting site Reddit in order to inform people of and protest the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. These sites, and others, are doing what they can to keep the internet an ethereal place for free communication. There’s a lot to be said about SOPA, and it’s sister bill PIPA, but those sites and others will be much more informative than this blog. (EDIT: Consumerist is devoting the day to articles on SOPA.) The short of it is this: The acts would give the media companies the power to contact internet service providers and basically block any site that they see is violating their copyright in any way. An example of such would be Monster Cables’ attempt to shutdown Craigslist because someone used the site to try to sell his old Monster brand cables. If passed, SOPA would give Monster that power.

While the venom spewed at the bill is justified from my point of view, I want to take a moment to explain that some of the arguments people are expressing against SOPA don’t work. Mainly that our internet usage is a fundamental freedom. It’s not. The internet is privilege, and its remaining this free for so long has been an honest, amazing blessing. What people don’t get about the bill that makes it so frightening is that none of this was ever guaranteed to those of us on the user end, and the passage of the bill would only serve to define this chaotic world that we’ve taken for granted. And while we would see it as a horrible wrong, they would be within their rights. Unfortunately, to ensure that our usage becomes a fundamental freedom, we need to see this through. Only in the bill’s defeat can we have legislation that guarantees us anything at all.

But I don’t know how strong my faith is in things turning out well. Right now we can only hope for the best.

Oldboy

Oldboy is the perfect example of the type of film that cannot be done in America, despite its basic revenge flick premise. The twist that makes the tale unique is pretty much forbidden for the mainstream, middle ground-aiming American film industry. Which is pretty hilarious considering an American adaptation of the original manga is in the works. The manga includes none of the taboo elements of the Korean film and completely different characterizations. My suspicion is that the American producers want all of the popularity and notoriety of the Korean film without putting in any of what made it anything other than a generic action film.

Sadly, the American adaptation will probably make a lot of money anyway. Mindless action films sell, the American culture has a history of loving revenge stories, and a fair amount of clout has been building up about the name Oldboy without anyone knowing anything except that they have to see it. The confusion about which one they need to see will be a boon to the new film’s theatrical release.

At this point I shouldn’t have to say this, but there are spoilers here. Read the rest of this entry

Social Networking

Before the end of the year, I said, “Social networking is the fog we use to confuse our relationships and obscure our antisocial habits. Thoughts?” That was the entire post, so only click the link if you like the idea of my hit count increasing. I didn’t get much response. What I got was incredibly thoughtful. I just wish I had gotten more.

I’m not opposed to the existence of social networking. I was an early adopter of Facebook when it hit the University of Michigan. This had to be between my sophomore and junior years, if memory serves. Someone in the University of Michigan community on LiveJournal, a proto-social network itself, announced that The Facebook had finally hit Michigan and we could all sign up. Curiosity led to my account on the network, no matter how creepy it was at the time. Some may find the timeline feature disturbing, but there was a time when the site urged its users to post their class scheduled and share them – and there were no privacy controls.

But social networks are not in and of themselves problematic. They are essentially programs. They supply none of their own information, and they only occasionally pull information about you from other locations. Social networks are ultimately at the mercy of their users. Read the rest of this entry

re: A Link to the Past’s status

Retronauts: 1UP’s Classic Gaming Blog : How is Zelda: A Link to the Past Different From (and Better Than) Its Sequels?.

That Parish guy gets it. I’ve liked him ever since he ran a site called Toasty Frog, before blogs were known as blogs. It’s always comforting to find some of our opinions are still in line.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword impressions

You never forget your first quest

Before I get to what I thought of Nintendo’s last huge release of 2011, a little context might help to understand how I view the series of The Legend of Zelda as a whole. The first three games my family had for the Nintendo Entertainment System were (of course) Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, Lifeforce, and The Legend of Zelda. At the time Zelda was too daunting for five year-old me, but it was an amazing game to watch my brother and Papa play. I remember borrowing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link from a friend and being confused by the change in game play but impressed nonetheless with the world it created. Then I rented and played through The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, which became one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve owned, played, and loved just about every proper Zelda game since then (yes, I’m excluding the Phillips CD-I games as well as the LCD handhelds) – and I literally received The Minish Cap in the mail last Saturday. The Zelda series represents to me what video games can be when enough thought are put into them. Ultimately, Zelda games are puzzles requiring the player figure out almost everything, from effective combat strategies to advancement in mazes. There’s a lot of thoughtfulness and mindfulness going on. The least appealing factor about the series is its reliance on its own tropes, primarily the “Received New Item, No Longer Need to Think about How to Move Forward in the Dungeon” trope. Yeah, when you get the whip, that will make the rest of the dungeon easier and you now know what to use on the boss. Regardless, it’s difficult for me to not appreciate the earnestness with which they deliver that trope. The designers want players to constantly feel like they are mastering the games.

Of course I picked up Skyward Sword as soon as it was made available, or at least as soon as my pre-order arrived in the mail three days after its availability in stores. So eager was I to play that I did not even bother to wait until the next day to pop the disc in and go, despite the fact that my pupils were still dilated from that afternoon’s eye exam. It was Zelda time, and I needed to experience the new addition to its world. Skyward Sword didn’t disappoint in the areas where it needed to remain strong, and it brought new experiences to the table. Read the rest of this entry